Category Archives: HOMER

In Memoriam: Karel Dibbets

It is with great sadness that we have learned of the death of Karel Dibbets, which occurred in the last days of May. Our thoughts are with his friends and family, and we will remember Karel as a kind and generous colleague who leaves a lasting legacy in our field.

Tributes have already been published and will no doubt continue to appear, as Karel’s work and life connected him to so many others through his teaching, writing, editing, organising, and his cheerful, bright presence at conferences and social events. We invite you to post your remembrances and tributes to Karel in the comments below, to be collected for future events in his memory.

Karel was one of the founding members of the HoMER Project in 2004, and orchestrated its first conference, ‘Cinema in Context’, in 2006 (The keynotes were published in a special edition of Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis). Its title makes reference to the Cinema Context database, which stands as Karel’s most influential project – and indeed a trailblazing one that opened up new ways of researching cinema history. Collecting and systematizing data of film exhibition and distribution in the Netherlands between 1895 and 1940, Cinema Context was one of a handful of digital projects that gave concrete form to the empirically-grounded project of New Cinema History as an emerging field. Karel’s reflections on method and practice (such as his 2010 article on “Cinema Context and the genes of film history”) are key interventions in the effort to construct an interdisciplinary field of study, and have helped many others to structure and develop new projects in many parts of the world.

A very important aspect of Cinema Context, which in a way reflects Karel’s sociability, was its openness. Not only can you view, browse, and search the data – you can download the whole database and useful scripts to run analyses on it, or to collect your own data in a compatible format. This ideal of interconnectivity through shared standards continues to motivate current work within the HoMER Network, and Karel’s absence will be felt on a practical level as well. Fortunately, the University of Amsterdam continues to maintain the database, with Julia Noordegraaf as its curator, thus ensuring that the project continues to develop and transform.

After graduating from the Netherlands Film Academy, he studied economic and social history at the University of Amsterdam where he also wrote his PhD on the coming of sound in the Netherlands. In his nearly 30 years teaching cinema history at the University of Amsterdam (1983-2011) he inspired many students. Karel had also co-edited the Skrien monthly film review and the Jaarboek Mediageschiedenis / Media History Yearbook. His book Film and the First World War, with Bert Hogenkamp, is an essential part of any early cinema bibliography. His books on the coming of sound in the Netherlands and cinema history until 1940 are standard works for Dutch films students. His books and multiple articles on the transition to sound, film distribution and exhibition in the Netherlands, and the relations between film and theatre demonstrated his clarity of analysis and ability to weave together detail and pattern.

Lately Karel had been working on ‘the evergreens of cinema history’, the films that kept coming back to Dutch screens over the decades. Karel’s laughter and conviviality will never be restored to us – but may our memories of our dear friend, and the influence of his work, remain thus ‘evergreen’.

Tributes from friends

In the media:

Please use the Comments below to post your memories and tributes to Karel, or links to notes published elsewhere.

Call for Papers: What is Cinema History?


A HoMER Network conference

presented by the Early Cinema in Scotland research project

call for papers


University of Glasgow

22-24 June, 2015


Over the last three decades, our understanding of cinema as a historical phenomenon has been subject to a series of ‘turns’ – empirical, spatial, and computational, to name a few. This conference, organised by the Early Cinema in Scotland research project in collaboration with the HoMER Network (History of Moviegoing, Exhibition and Reception), will investigate the shifting positions and imperatives of cinema history and its relationships with other approaches and disciplines. As cinema itself unravels or merges into a diversity of media forms and reception contexts, the centrifugal impulse of cinema history is amplified by scholarly engagement with new technologies. At this pivotal point, we need to understand the contradictory legacies and perspectives of film studies, film history, media archaeology, cultural studies, and other cognate fields, transcending the discourse of ‘newness’ that has underpinned the development of these methods. Thirty years after Film History: Theory and Practice (Allen and Gomery, 1985), what is new in the theory and practice of film and cinema history? To that end, this conference welcomes papers on the rhetoric and methods of cinema history from all periods, as well as empirical research projects that engage with these questions through case studies or comparative analysis.


Some of the topics proposed for consideration include:

  • The place of cinema history in relation to other disciplines and research fields, such as geography or social history;
  • Teaching cinema history and understanding its specialist skill-set;
  • Archives, sources, and the consequences of digitisation for different types of cinematic heritage;
  • Historical geographies of cinema and the use of digital mapping as analytical tool;
  • Non-metropolitan and non-theatrical exhibition studies as a historiographical challenge;
  • The rhetoric of ‘newness’ and revisionist historiography;
  • Text, ‘distant reading’, and the digital humanities;
  • Data sharing, comparative approaches, and micro-history.


Confirmed keynotes:

  • Richard Maltby
  • Haidee Wasson
  • John Caughie
  • Judith Thissen


Research on the history of exhibition, distribution and reception emphasises cinema’s imbrication in the fabric of social experience, championing relational and contextual approaches. Since 2004 the HoMER Network ( has functioned as an international forum for researchers working in these areas, supporting a series of conferences, events, and publications. Participation in the 2015 event is not restricted to previous HoMER participants.


The conference will be preceded by a workshop on Historical Network Analysis, organised by the DICIS (Digital Cinema Studies) Network, and the second day will also feature a reflexive round-table on the past and prospects for cinema history. There will also be a HoMER general meeting during the conference, to decide on future structures and goals for the Network. This meeting is open to all conference participants interested in the future of HoMER. The Early Cinema in Scotland project will fund ten student/unwaged bursaries to cover registration costs.


Submissions are invited for individual papers and pre-constituted panels or workshops. For papers, please submit an abstract of no more than 500 words and a short biographical note to both Maria Velez-Serna ( and Lies Van de Vijver ( before

9 January 2015. For panels, please send the abstracts together with a 200-word note on the title and topic of the panel or workshop.


You will be notified of the acceptance or decline of your proposal by 5 March 2015.

2015 HoMER Conference CFP Glasgow (PDF)

New HOMER Website

Welcome to the new online home of the HoMER Network.

Please bear with us as we migrate the old HOMER website to the new platform.

What is HoMER?

HoMER stands for History of Moviegoing, Exhibition and Reception. It is an international network of researchers interested in understanding the complex phenomena of cinema-going, exhibition, and reception, from a multidisciplinary perspective. HoMER has organized panels, conferences and workshops since 2004.

What is Digital HoMER?

This website uses the DH Press platform developed at the University of North Carolina, in order to provide a directory to HoMER-related projects around the world. It attempts to map and categorize these projects to foster a collaborative outlook and awareness of relevant work, with particular attention to projects that incorporate digital methods or elements.

What projects are represented?

The list and map are constantly growing, but they are fed by direct submissions which are then approved and formatted by an editor.

How do I get involved?

If your project seems to fit the HoMER remit, please go to the online form. Your submission will be sent to one of the website editors, who will format it and georeference it before it is included on the map. At the moment this is still a manual process, so it can take a couple of days.

At the last HoMER meeting in Milan, it was also decided to try to compile a directory of existing datasets available for comparative research. If you want to contribute details of your datasets, please use this form.

Announcements for forthcoming events and calls for papers will be posted under Meetings.